Woman held in Poland for adding LGBTQ rainbow to revered icon

The 51-year-old activist could face up to two years in prison or a stiff fine if convicted.
Image:
Picketers with posters of Poland's most-revered icon of Mother of God of Czestochowa with the LGBTQ rainbow colors added to its halos, protest the detention for a few hours of Elzbieta Podlesna, on suspicion she put up such posters near a church in the city of Plock, in Krakow, Poland, on May 6, 2019.Beata Zawrzel / AP
By Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland — Rights groups and government critics in Poland are protesting Tuesday after police temporarily detained a human rights activist for putting up posters depicting the country’s most revered Catholic icon with the LGBTQ rainbow on the halos of Mary and baby Jesus.

Prosecutors in the central city of Plock said the woman has been questioned and has heard charges of hurting religious feelings and desecration of the icon of Mother of God of Czestochowa, popularly known as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, a painting housed at the Jasna Gora monastery in Czestochowa, in southern Poland, since the 14th-century.

The activist, 51-year-old Elzbieta Podlesna, last month placed posters with altered images of the icon on walls, garbage bins and mobile toilets near St. Dominik’s church in Plock. She did not physically damage the icon, which was venerated by pontiffs including Pope John Paul II.

The Morning Rundown

Get a head start on the morning's top stories.

The case has highlighted the clash in predominantly Catholic Poland between the freedom of speech and laws banning hostility against religious beliefs.

Podlesna defended her actions on private TVN24 Tuesday.

“This is certainly not an attack on religion, certainly not an attack on faith, this is not a form of attack,” she said.

“How can you attack anyone using a picture, let’s be serious,” she added.

Podlesna could face up to two years in prison or a stiff fine if convicted.

Earlier, Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski on Twitter thanked the police for their action and said that the principles of freedom and tolerance did not give anyone the right to hurt the feelings of believers.

Poland is predominantly Catholic and its government is conservative and pro-church. But the church has been under criticism for its continuing prominent role in state matters, and recently for revealing hundreds of case of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

FOLLOW NBC OUT ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM